Health authorities are racing to contain at least two COVID-19 outbreaks in Sydney as the number of locally-transmitted cases grow, dashing hopes of the Queensland border reopening next month.
NSW recorded eight more locally-acquired coronavirus cases on Thursday, including three flagged on Wednesday, that ended a 12-day streak without any community transmission.
Multiple cases diagnosed on Thursday will also be added to the tally on Friday.
Five of the cases announced on Thursday are linked to a Liverpool Hospital dialysis cluster – one healthcare worker in her 30s, two women who visited her, and two household contacts aged in their 60s and 80s.
The source of the second cluster – the three cases revealed on Wednesday – is under investigation.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said it is likely more cases would be diagnosed in coming days.
“We anticipate that because we’ve identified these eight cases, that a number of close contacts and family members could be found to be positive as a result, so it’s really important for everybody to stay on high alert,” she said.
A spokesperson from Macquarie University confirmed that a student was among the recently diagnosed cases, and contact tracing was underway.
While these new local cases have threatened the prospect of the Queensland border reopening on November 1, Ms Berejiklian accused her northern counterpart Annastacia Palaszczuk of “making up rules”.
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Queensland on Wednesday gave NSW 48 hours to find the source of three new cases before restarting the 28-day countdown clock that triggers border re-openings.
“I don’t know where they got that 48-hour deadline concept from and I certainly want to send a very strong message to our health experts in NSW – just continue to do your jobs well (and) ignore those artificial deadlines other governments are imposing on us,” Ms Berejiklian said.
Authorities are alerting people to new locations identified as having been visited by confirmed COVID sufferers.
An infectious person attended Potts Point’s Monopole Restaurant on Sunday evening. There are also eight train services and two bus-replacement services between Sunday and Wednesday, which pose a contact risk. Stations visited by the services include Parramatta, Liverpool and Moss Vale and more details can be found at www.health.nsw.gov.au
Ms Berejiklian said the NSW government was considering making the Service NSW QR scanning code a compulsory feature for venues and businesses, after a restaurant visited by a virus case failed to record all patrons’ details.
“I have no patience anymore for people, and businesses in particular, that aren’t doing the right thing … we can’t have a few people let down the whole community.”